24 September 2015

Suitcase. 5 Destinations That Should Be On Your European Bucketlist

When it comes to planning the ultimate European break the same cities always roll off the tongue; Paris, Barcelona, Rome, London, Berlin… Yes these places offer a plethora of sights and experiences and aren’t to be missed, but I think you’ll find if you delve a little further, there are some lesser-known gems that offer truly genuine cultural experiences you’re sure to remember for a lifetime. Check out the places that I may not have initially heard of but now I'm so glad I did...

Naxos - Greece
When to go: Summer
How long to stay: 3-4 days
A lesser known Greek Island, Naxos conveniently lies between tourist hotspots Mykonos and Santorini, so it’s certainly worthy of a stop along the way. Home to arguably the friendliest people in Europe, Naxos also boasts some truly picturesque beaches; just outside the main town, Agios Prokopios’s crystal waters easily rival those of the Maldives. With ancient ruins and the highest peak in the Greek Cyclades that was believed to be the birthplace of Zeus, there’s no doubt this island has plenty on offer.

Lyon - France
When to go: Any time really
How long to stay: 3-4 days
If you’re travelling through France then a stop in Lyon is simply a must. This historic little town once known for producing silk is now regarded as the centre of gastronomy in France. Lying on the banks of both the Rhône and Saône Rivers, Lyon has plenty to offer its visitors. From the panoramic views atop Fourvière Hill to the majestic Parc de la Tête d’Or (if it’s named after a golden head you know it’s going to be good) this city oozes charm and character.

Bruges - Belguim
When to go: December
How long to stay: 2-3 days
If you’re travelling in the lead-up to Christmas then the little town of Bruges is not to be missed. With a picturesque nature that seems straight out of a story book, this Belgian village really comes alive in December. Cobblestoned squares and laneways are filled with Christmas markets, an ice-rink appears and twinkling lights adorn the medieval buildings. Home to world class frites (fries) and exceptional waffles, you’re certain to enjoy some wonderful food too.

Budapest - Hungary
When to go: Autumn or Spring
How long to stay: 3-4 days
Get a taste of Eastern Europe with a trip to Budapest. This often-forgotten city is brimming with history and iconic architecture. Often called one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, an evening cruise down the Danube River to take in the lights of the city is essential. With an extreme climate that swings from sweltering summers to freezing winters, it’s a good idea to visit in autumn or spring. While you’re there make sure you try the local cuisine, take a trip to the famous thermal baths and don’t miss the panoramic view of the city from the Fisherman’s Bastion.

Keukenhof Gardens - Netherlands
When to go: Spring
How long to stay: Half a day
If you’re around Amsterdam in the springtime then a visit to the nearby Keukenhof Gardens is sure to be one of the best travel decisions you’ll make. The second largest flower garden in the world, Keukenhof is open each year from March to May with a stunning 7 million hand-planted flowers on display. From tulips to daffodils, hyacinths and lilies – this place is literally a flower-lovers paradise. The gardens also provide a good dose of Dutch culture thanks to its giant windmill and traditional food stalls.

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Photos by Krissie.